Bernie Sanders Explains To Democrats Why They Lose Elections

He criticized the party's establishment -- while standing just steps away from the party's establishment.
WASHINGTON -- In his first-ever speech before the Democratic National Committee on Friday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) criticized the party's approach to elections, saying Democrats wouldn't win in 2016 if they failed to generate enthusiasm and resorted instead to "politics as usual." 

"Let me be very clear," said Sanders, who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination and caucuses with Democrats in the Senate. "In my view, Democrats will not retain the White House, will not regain the Senate, will not gain the House and will not be successful in dozens of governor’s races unless we run a campaign which generates excitement and momentum and which produces a huge voter turnout." 

Sanders made the comments at the DNC's summer meeting in Minneapolis, Minnesota, standing just steps from party officials like DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz. He suggested that his campaign was a model for the kind of "revolution" that Democrats had needed during the 2014 midterm elections, in which Republicans won nearly all close gubernatorial and congressional races and took control over a number of state legislatures.

"The Republicans did not win the midterm election in November," the senator said. "The Democrats lost that election because voter turnout was abysmally low, and millions of working people, minorities and young people gave up on politics as usual and stayed home."

"With all due respect, and I do not mean to insult anyone here, that will not happen with politics as usual," he continued. "The same old, same old will not be successful."

Sanders' criticism of the Democratic Party was a departure from the themes he emphasizes in his typical stump speech on the campaign trail. He said that Democrats need "a movement which takes on the economic and political establishment, not one which is part of it." However, the end of the speech was more true to form, transitioning into a list of the issues that his "unprecedented grassroots movement" would focus on: Wall Street, campaign finance, immigration, economic and educational inequality, climate change and mass incarceration.  

The DNC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In a speech at the same meeting earlier in the day, former Secretary of State and Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton reserved her criticism for her Republican rivals, especially businessman Donald Trump.

But Sanders wasn't the only presidential candidate challenging the DNC at Friday's meeting. Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley called the primary debate process "rigged" and described the DNC's decision to hold only four debates before the Iowa caucuses as a "cynical move." Both O'Malley and Sanders have said there should be more debates before the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary take place in early 2016.

"While the Republicans put their backwards ideas forward before an audience of more than 20 million Americans, we put our forward-thinking ideas on the back burner ... and try to hide them from the airwaves," O'Malley said, adding, "We are the Democratic Party, not the Undemocratic Party."

Wasserman Schultz was not pleased: